Report finds Hayward school trustee John Taylor misused district resources; links action to superintendent

An investigator found no evidence that John 
Taylor paid for any printing projects.

HAYWARD | Hayward school trustee John Taylor misused school district resources for personal and campaign-related printing projects, according to a report forward to the Alameda County District Attorney’s office on Friday.

The findings also suggest Taylor’s repeated misuse of school district’s administrative print shop over at least the past two years was done with the knowledge of Hayward Superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs, currently on paid administrative leave while the school district investigates several allegations against him.

While the total cost of the projects performed for Taylor is unknown, there are indications he was charged pennies on the dollars for printing projects potentially worth thousands of dollars.

Stan “Data” Dobbs once served as campaign
treasurer for Taylor’s city council campaign.

In one instance, the school district’s investigator found Taylor was charged just $9.75 for 30 campaign posters. An estimate for the same work provided by a commercial print shop quoted the project costing $1,080, according the report. There is no evidence that Taylor paid the paltry bill, the investigator found.

Evidence of five other print jobs, according to the report, were performed with use of the school district print shop, including a biographical brochure for Taylor’s City Council campaign and promotional literature for Taylor’s own business, the CalVoc Construction Trade Institute. Some of the projects were apparently paid by Taylor, but at “hugely discounted prices,” said the report.

Last month, Taylor admitted to using the school district’s print shop for campaign signs and flyers related to his ill-fated run for the Hayward City Council this summer and also paying for the service. In either case, according to school district bylaws and the state’s Election Code, political campaigns are prohibited from using taxpayers’ resources for their efforts, whether they pay for the service or not.

Taylor, third from the left, at an endorsement meeting
for his Hayward City Council campaign this year

Furthermore, the cumulative cost of Taylor’s other printing projects is unclear. A printout of the district print shop’s petty cash account shows five projects since July 2014 attributed to Taylor costing a grand total of $215.

It is not known exactly what was the final product or the quantity of copies, but a photo of the biographical piece used by Taylor’s City Council campaign included in the report appears to be potentially worth more than $215 alone.

It includes a photo-heavy piece featuring Taylor posing separately with some of the most powerful politicians in Alameda County including, Rep. Eric Swalwell, state Senate candidate Nancy Skinner, former state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

Also, featured prominently on one panel of the brochure is a photograph of Hillary Clinton bookended by Taylor and Dobbs. The ties between Taylor and Dobbs have long been tight. Taylor was the school board’s biggest booster to advocate for Dobbs’ appointment as superintendent three years ago. And, during one endorsement meeting for Taylor’s council run earlier this year, he described Dobbs as the “best superintendent in the country.”

Dobbs also served early on as campaign treasurer for Taylor’s run for the Hayward City Council earlier this year. The report notes Dobbs’ service to the campaign overlapped the period when the biographical piece was printed. Dobbs, though, told the investigator that Taylor included his name on a campaign form without his knowledge, according to the report.

The investigation into Taylor’s misuse of school district resources only came about during a separate inquiry into alleged wrongdoings by Dobbs, currently on paid administrative leave since late June. Taylor, meanwhile, is up for re-election to the Hayward school board this November.

According to the report, there is evidence that the work done by school district print shop was performed with at least tacit approval from Dobbs. A district employee told the investigator that Taylor’s printing requests began shortly after Dobbs introduced him to the print shop worker in the fall of 2014. Taylor would make the requests in person, said the employee, and provide a thumb drive containing the files he needed printed.

On another occasion, Dobbs personally made recommendations for designing a brochure for Taylor. “I was asked by the Superintendent, Mr. Dobbs, to make up a logo using the golden apple image that was used on certificates for teachers,” said the employee.

In an affidavit from another district employee, they described contact with Taylor on three occasions over the past year “to discuss jobs of a nature that appeared to me to pertain to personal print projects and not district or school related matters.”

The employee added Taylor’s projects never came “through the usual channels” and without official documentation. “In some instances,” said the employee, “many hours were put into the creation of these projects.”

What happens next is uncertain, but last month school board member William McGee publicly raised the possibility of censuring Taylor for his actions. Such an move, if ultimately approved by the school board, would likely render Taylor’s re-election unlikely. Taylor and school board members Annette Walker and Luis Reynoso up for re-election in an at-large field of 10 candidates.

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